One of the best light heavyweights in MMA returned from a lengthy layoff last night (Jan. 12, 2013) as former Strikeforce champion Gegard Mousasi battled the always dangerous Mike Kyle on the Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedoine main card in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Mousasi entered the bout having not fought in all of 2012 after suffering some training injuries and had vowed to come back stronger than ever.
He looked ferocious last night against Kyle, although it was close early on.
In the beginning of the bout, Kyle was active with his punches, keeping Mousasi at bay and holding his own on the feet. Neither man was able to land anything significant and Kyle was successfully able to fend off a takedown attempt from "The Dreamcatcher" after about a minute.
The next time they entered the clinch, Kyle fired off some knees, but this only motivated Mousasi to pursue the takedown harder and the next time he changed levels, he was able to put "Mac" on the ground.
From here, the fight was already over as Mousasi had a significantly better ground game. Kyle deliberately put the fight in half guard in an attempt to utilize some of his sweeps, but this only opened the door for Mousasi to create better leverage with his ground and pound and then pass to mount when Kyle left his guard too open.
Once in mount, Mousasi postured up and began systematically destroying Kyle with punches and elbows from top position. As Kyle faded from the blows, he gave up his back and the former light heavyweight champ pounced with a rear naked choke to put an end to it.
For Mike Kyle, he just looked a bit lost in this fight. Even on the feet which is his biggest strength, he wasn't able to land anything really significant. While he did stop the first takedown attempt, his inability to keep the fight standing was his ultimate downfall. His guard was too open from eating some ground and pound and intentionally giving up the half guard proved foreboding as Mousasi took advantage of it and beat him down with ground strikes.
If Kyle stays true to his word, he's done fighting. Regardless of if he changes his mind, there's nothing he's shown in his last two performances that makes it look like he would be getting an invite to the UFC now that Strikeforce has shut its doors.
For Gegard Mousasi, he played it smart in this fight. He knew Kyle's only chance was to keep it standing and he had him on the canvas by the two minute mark of the fight. Once there, he sliced through Kyle's defenses with some brutal punches and elbows, making the finish of the fight more of a formality than anything. This was a very solid well-rounded performance from Mousasi and while taking Kyle down doesn't prove you're wrestling is elite, it is definitely a good sign moving forward.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did Mousasi rise to the occasion like you expected? What do you make of his chances in the UFC? Can he make something happen whether it's at middleweight or light heavyweight?